“WHAT. We lied?” “… Alls we do is lie.” So ran an exchange of texts between colleagues at the building materials company Kingspan , after it began marketing one of its insulation products, Kooltherm K15, as having a “Class 0” rating, taken at the time to be suitable for use in high-rise blocks. K15 was used on Grenfell Tower. The sordid story of how that came to be was revealed at the inquiry into the Grenfell fire.
What so amused Kingspan employees was their ability to market K15 as Class 0 without testing the material as a whole; the company simply tested the foil facer. “You could staple a foil facer to dynamite and put it on a building of above 18 metres and call it Class 0?” Richard Millett QC rhetorically asked Adrian Pargeter, a Kingspan director. Which is not that far from what actually happened.
Too little attention is being paid to the Grenfell inquiry. What is being brutally exposed is the inhumanity of companies trying to scam the system, irrespective of consequences for people’s lives, and of regulations as fit for purpose as the Grenfell cladding itself.
The bureaucracy provided some regulations that attempted, in detail, to tell people what they could, and could not, do. These regulations turned out to be not very good.
Imagine now a much more general system of regulation. Thou shall not make products which kill the customers. A very general rule, open ended, there’s no sign off on it from some bloke one can pour beer into. True, there’s also no series of comfy indoor jobs for people to tick boxes. But, you know. It could well be an effective manner of regulation.
So, we have that first form of regulation. Something goes wrong. This is thus the fault of the regulated, not the regulators?